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Atlantic 10 Preview: Ranking next season's 15 must-see games

Jeff Eisenberg
The Dagger

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Our week-long Atlantic 10 preview continues with a look at the conference's 15 most intriguing matchups next season.

1. Temple at Duke, Feb. 23

Comment: The Atlantic 10 favorites travel to the home of the defending national champions for a rare non-conference showdown just days before the calendar turns to March. Temple's stingy defense facing off with Duke's talented guards should be a treat to watch.

2. Butler at Xavier, TBD

Comment: Add Xavier's quest for revenge after a timekeeper's error cost them a victory at Butler last year, and what already would have been a marquee non-conference game gets that much more intriguing.

3. Xavier vs. Dayton, TBD

Comment: The Atlantic 10's preeminent rivalry will again play a role in shaping the conference title race again next season. Xavier and Dayton split a pair of games last year, with the Musketeers grinding out a home win and the Flyers returning the favor in a 90-65 blowout a few weeks later.

4. Georgetown at Temple, Dec. 9

Comment: On a Temple schedule loaded with challenging non-conference games, this might be the most anticipated home matchup. The Hoyas lost elite center Greg Monroe to the NBA, but return one of the Big East's top backcourts.

5. Florida at Xavier, Dec. 31

Comment: What's the recipe for a wild New Year's pre-party in Cincinnati? How about an afternoon showdown between Atlantic 10 contender Xavier and a Florida team hoping to challenge Kentucky and Tennessee in the SEC West?

6. Temple at Xavier, TBD

Comment: Temple beat Xavier at home in their lone meeting last season on the way to sharing the conference title with the Musketeers. The two Atlantic 10 contenders again play only once next season, but this time it's in Cincinnati.

7. Saint Louis at Duke, Dec. 11 2010

Comment: It's probably too much to ask for the Billikens to upset Duke at Cameron Indoor Arena, but we learned last year the danger of underestimating Rick Majerus' team. Either way, this should be a great barometer of how much Saint Louis has improved heading into conference play.

8. Xavier at Cincinnati, TBD

Comment: There was a time when the Crosstown Showdown was the only marquee game on Xavier's non-conference schedule. Even now that it's just one of many, it's still one of the nation's fiercest inter-conference rivalry games.

9. Wake Forest at Richmond, Dec. 29

Comment: Youthful Wake Forest likely won't be as strong as it has been in the past, but getting the Demon Deacons at home is still a nice coup for Richmond. The Spiders rode wins over Florida, Missouri and Old Dominion to an NCAA tournament berth last season.

10. Temple at Villanova, Dec. 29

Comment: The victory that signaled Temple's strength last season was a 75-65 win over previously undefeated Villanova in December. The Owls will meet their Big 5 rivals again this season, but this time it will be on the road.

11. Richmond vs. Purdue, Nov. 27 (Chicago)

Comment: If Richmond beats Wright State and Purdue defeats Southern Illinois, it will set up this fun matchup in the title game of the Chicago Invitational Challenge. It's a difficult test for the Spiders, but a nice Thanksgiving treat for the rest of us.

12. Temple at Dayton, TBD

Comment: Two of the league's top defensive teams produced a 49-41 Temple victory last season. Will the Owls be able to hold down Dayton again next season in the lone meeting of the Atlantic 10 contenders?

13. Charlotte vs. Tennessee, Dec. 17

Comment: If the 49ers are going to return to the NCAA tournament for the first time in six years, this is the type of game they need to win. Tennessee wouldn't play on Charlotte's campus, so they'll play at the Bobcats' home arena instead.

14. Rhode Island at Providence, Dec. 4

Comment: A November visit to Big East favorite Pittsburgh may be the bigger game nationally, but Rhode Island fans would take great pleasure from adding to what has been a miserable past few months for Providence. A Rams win would be their third in four years.

15. Xavier at Gonzaga, TBD

Comment: Xavier and Gonzaga have been the nation's two premier non-BCS programs the past decade along with Memphis and Butler, but they haven't met in a regular season game during that span. Their lone meeting was a 79-75 Gonzaga victory in the first round of the 2006 NCAA tournament.

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